Training trip 2019
The most difficult part of climbing, is selecting a route, because this completely depends on the conditions, the weather and your knowledge about a certain area in the Alps. Normally we only start a couple of days before our trip by checking the weather forecast, then find something about the conditions (not easy) and based on this decide where to go.
So, the day before we left we decided to go (again) to the Chamonix area. Mainly because we know the area best and considering the short weekend it is easy to get quickly to a route, without a long approach - at least normally that is. Forecast showed sunny weather (good), high temperatures (not good) and there had fallen lots of snow (not good), so we are not sure what to expect exactly.
The plan: arrive on Saturday early afternoon and go to Albert 1er hut. Sunday - Climb short route ‘arete du table’ (AD) as a warming up and acclimatize a bit. Monday - climb one of the more technical routes on the north face of the Aiguille Chardonnet.
The reality was different of course.
Because we have to pick up Martin from Geneve, we are not sure if we are in time for the last lift. Luckily we just make the last lift just! So, we are happily sitting in the lift. Only at the top of the lift we decide to call the hut to see if there is space to sleep. Of course we should have done this earlier, but we thought we would be ok in the early season and on the website it said the hut was not full. Of course the hut was full, shit. We didn’t bring any sleeping gear. Because the lift is closed by now, we walk all the way back to the car, pick up our sleeping bags and mattresses and again walk all the way up until the top of the lift station. Great start. Well, no man overboard yet, it will only be a longer Sunday, because we still have to walk to the hut,repack our gear there etc.
larm goes at 4.00 and we leave at 4.30 to approach the hut (from 1800m to 2700m). After some repacking at the hut, we continue to the base of the route at around 3.000m. It is already late in the morning and the snow is soft, so we make slow progress going up the couloir, because we are sinking in the snow waist deep.
Once on the route, we progress quickly. The ridge is easy, pleasant climbing and in a beautiful setting and we climb simultaneously up to the specific feature of the route - a flat rock that got stuck between some needles and can be seen from miles away as a table on the ridge. Getting onto it is a bit tricky, but we manage. After the ridge we continue to the summit of Aiguille du Tour at 3540m. From there it is a short descend over rock, but then still some 700m descending over the glacier, which is so late during the day and with the high temperatures more like wading through a snowlake! What should have been a short day, in the end became a 14hr day!
Unfortunately the freezing level is even during nighttime above 4.000m, so there is no chance to climb a more technical route in the north face. We consider to do a more classic route up the Chardonnet, but after talking to two guys who did it on Sunday who said it was not much fun due to the heat and soft snow, we decide it is more like a rock climbing day. We descend, take our rock climbing shoes and climb some pitches in the valley, before heading back to The Netherlands.
Fun but short trip to the Alps, always good to be in the mountains!